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Posted at 01:00 PM ET, 11/02/2009

Thomas bills would set new limits on Fenty administration

The Office of the Chief Financial Officer would be prohibited from transferring any funds to the D.C. Housing Authority and its subsidiaries for 90 days, under emergency legislation that Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) plans to introduce Tuesday.

The Department of Parks and Recreation would also have to notify the council of any transactions of $75,000 or greater, under the bill.

The legislation is one of three measures Thomas is introducing Tuesday that involve the council's recent disputes with the administration.

The legislation that would stop transfers stems from the council's probe of an agreement between the administration of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and the housing authority to transfer millions of dollars to the independent agency to build parks, recreation centers and ball fields.

The housing authority has awarded contracts in excess of $1 million without council approval, which Attorney General Peter J. Nickles has declared an unlawful practice. Nickles has said that future contracts should go to the council for approval but any contracts already awarded are "legal and binding" to the chagrin of several council members.

Thomas, chairman of the Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation, discussed his legislation at a news briefing Monday.

He is also introducing a resolution that would give his committee the power to issue subpoenas to provide the council with documents and to force witnesses to testify about the transferred funds.

Thomas and three other council members, Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large) and Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), held a hearing Friday to look into the transfers and contracts.

Representatives of the housing authority testified, but council members were upset that Larry Dwyer, who runs one of the housing authority's development arm's D.C. Housing Enterprises, did not appear.

The third measure addresses Fenty's recent re-appointment of Ximena Hartsock as interim director of the parks and recreation department for 180 days while he seeks a replacement. The mayor re-appointed her after the council rejected her in a 7 to 5 vote.

The bill would amend city law so that "a nominee shall not serve as an acting subordinate agency head...or in any hold-over capacity..." if rejected.

The mayor would also have just 60 days to nominate a replacement if the council disapproves his initial nominee.

-- Nikita Stewart

By Anne Bartlett  |  01:00 PM ET, 11/02/2009

Categories:  Nikita Stewart, Nikita Stewart, Nikita Stewart, Nikita Stewart

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